Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Palomar Health to distribute remaining 150 flu shots for free

Palomar Health to distribute remaining 150 flu shots for free

The average age of the other 34 people who have died of the flu this season is 75 years old, cabinet officials said.

"We're definitely seeing a lot more cases of flu and definitely more than past year", said Lyndy Stone, marketing director for Shannon Medical Center.

Almost every state now has widespread flu activity according to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). However, those are only cases confirmed by a lab. Wake Forest Baptist, Cone Health, and Novant Health put in visitor restrictions for the rest of the flu season.

Children and the elderly are also not spared from the flu season.

Experts say this year's flu vaccine is only 30% effective, saying the H3N2 strain, is tough to fight. Complications are less common and most people will recover within a week.

The prevalent strain circulating the state is classified as influenza A (H3N2), and is associated with more severe cases requiring hospitalization and death among seniors and young children than other strains.

If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, officials say it is not too late. And 20 children have died from the flu so far this season.

"Whenever [H3N2] shows up, it causes lots of disease, lots of hospitalizations, lots of cases and lots of deaths", he said. The effectiveness of flu shots is not flawless, but for children who get the flu even when vaccinated, the effects are milder.

"We know historically, if you look over the last few decades, that in general the vaccine is only 33 per cent effectiveness against the H3 strains where it's 60-70 per cent effective against the H1 Influenza A strain and Influenza B strains".

"For most people who do get Aussie flu, it will be a normal flu-like illness lasting around seven days, and many people who get the flu this year will have another strain rather than this one".

Jernigan characterized the current flu season as "on the severe side", but said it does not appear to be as severe as the 2014/2015 flu season, which was also driven by an H3N2 virus. Both Garcia and Grey still recommend getting the flu vaccine because it may reduce the symptoms and the duration of the flu.

To stay clear of the flu until its end - typically around March - Grey and Garcia recommend frequent hand washing, following good hygiene, resting and drinking plenty of fluids.

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